updated 09:56 am EDT, Tue August 12, 2014
US Digital Service created to avoid issues similar to Healthcare.gov launch
The Obama administration has launched a new team dedicated to managing the IT practices of government agencies. The US Digital Service (USDS), headed by former Google engineer Mikey Dickerson, aims to help government-created public IT projects work as effectively as privately-owned services, in order to avoid issues similar to the ill-fated Healthcare.gov launch, a project Dickerson helped rescue.
The USDS will be will consist of a small team which will work with agencies to minimize issues in creating or managing IT services. The team will "take private and public-sector best practices and help scale them across agencies," writes the White House blog, though more from a consulting angle. Another relatively-new team, 18F, is already tasked with building government IT services, but will be collaborating closely with the USDS on projects.
The team is made up of between seven and ten private-sector experts, reports Recode. It has already requested $20 million in funding from the next fiscal year's appropriations and plans to expand to 25 people, with federal workers set to be rotated into the team to help navigate the "myriad of regulations and laws" government IT projects have to abide by.
Despite it only publicly launching this week, the USDS has already published a playbook for government agencies to use when building public-facing IT projects. The collection of 13 "key plays" stress the need for projects to be "simple and intuitive," to be built using "agile and iterative practices," and to "choose a modern technology stack," among other suggestions. It has also published the TechFAR Handbook, a guide for how agencies can use the "plays" while using Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), something which governs how government agencies must acquire goods and services from the private sector.